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1988 Rock Hopper Comp Rebuild

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1988 Rock Hopper Comp Rebuild

Old 11-21-20, 10:02 AM
  #1  
DesmoDog
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1988 Rock Hopper Comp Rebuild

I guess this is where this thread should go? I've had this bike since new so I'm a little disturbed a post about it would fit in the "Classic" section, but I've done the math a few times now and it seems 1988 really was 32 years ago, so here it is.

I bought this bike near the end of my bicycle mechanic career, I worked in a Schwinn shop for about ten years starting around 1979. It replaced either a Peugeot Canyon Express, or a Yellow Fuji(?) something or other that I decided was too big for off road riding. I bought it after visiting a friend in Aspen and doing some riding out there. Once I bought it, I never rode in real mountains again... funny how that works. After sitting for a lot of years I decided to mod it for more street use and ride it on the paved trails around here. Higher bars, bigger seat, slicker tires... I rode it about three times in that configuration then it sat.

Flash forward to current times. I'm nearing retirement and getting a renewed interest in bicycles. On a whim a couple years ago I bought a cheap "Schwinn" cruiser and ended up switching it over to a Sturmey rear hub since I've always wanted something with internal gears. That bike means I don't really need this one to have street tires on it anymore. And I was just reminded that there are "off road" trails around here too, so why not put suitable tires back on the Rock Hopper?

I pulled it down and looked it over. Dang... I don't think it's ever been cleaned. And the shifter cables are downright rusty! Can't have that. Plus I have this fancy new service stand that's not being used now that the cruiser is done so what the heck, let's rebuild this thing.

Sorry about the poor quality pictures - I took most of these during a power outage with a flash but you get the idea of what I'm starting with.


It's picked up a few nicks along the way but overall it doesn't look bad for a 32 year old mountain bike. I think the worst abuse it has seen is water crossings that came up over the bottom bracket. No worries, the BB would get rebuilt following those excursions. The hubs on the other hand... I don't recall ever rebuilding those. Let's hope Phil Wood grease really is "all that"... Seeing the QR lever on the seat clamp reminds me it has some fancy schmancy seat post that's spring loaded. One of the water bottle bolts keeps the seat from rotating so you can pull the lever and adjust the seat height without getting off the bike. That's come in SO handy over the years. It's main benefit? Rudimentary anti-theft for the seat, the post won't come out of the frame without removing the water bottle bolt. I also like to imagine that the would be thief would be leaning over the bike when he pulled the lever and be surprised by the seat popping up and bopping him in the nose.




Yeah... it's pretty filthy. You can see the state of the shifter cable, which was the last straw for deciding it needed more than just new tires. And Bio-pace chain rings? I've been whining about replacing those since day one but never got around to it. Probably won't now either. My main gripe with them is pretty shallow and likely not even true - I've always blamed them for not being able to wheelie the bike as well as past bikes! It is probaby more related to frame geometry or just getting older, but it's easier to blame the chainrings.




Seriously, clean your bike once in a while! Notice the off-road ready white wall tires. And how much use they have seen over the years.



DeoreXT hubs with Araya RM20 rims. For some reason this bike got new wheels before it was sold. I seem to recall we pulled a stock wheel for a warranty claim or service or something? Details have been forgotten but these have been on it since I bought it.




The higher bars I put on it in an attempt to make it a more comfy "street" bike. I never really liked them, they're too narrow. I have a taller stem and more mountain bike-like bars but didn't have a cable hanger for the front brake (it's part of the stock stem) so never installed it. That has since been rectified so the new stem will be going on finally.

And that's where things sit for now.
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Old 11-21-20, 02:11 PM
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That will be fun to get back in riding shape. Can we see more of your repair stand.
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Old 11-21-20, 02:35 PM
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Takes me back. I bought a brand new RockHopper in 1988.. not the comp. straight blue frame. Yours looks like a 17 inch frame. The U-brake in the rear stopped really well, but loaded up with muck really easily. When I bought the bike I was asking them for the model that had round chainrings... not bio-pace. They said "oh, these are so much better"... All MTBs were coming out with biopace then, and I hated them. I replaced the smallest chainring for a round one with 2 less teeth. Blackburn rack on the rear?
Not aware of any spring loaded seatpost.
About 2003 my daughter was riding it.. and somebody followed her home. The bike was locked in the garage with a heavy cable. Someone came in and cut the cable.. bike gone. Stolen bike #3 out of 4 for me.

Yours isn't that dirty... not really any rust to speak. It'll come out nice!
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Old 11-21-20, 03:04 PM
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Nice Rockhopper! Don't worry about i9t being C&V they are the best bikes. That should clean up really nice.

I think someone still makes a cable hanger that mounts on the stem quill, or (I don't really recommend it) there might be one that bolts to fork.

I never rode any of my mountain bikes in the mountains either. Even the one or two mountain bike racers I tried were pretty flat.
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Old 11-21-20, 03:15 PM
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Cool bike and worth fixing up. I rebuilt a 1988 (maybe it's an '89) rockhopper for my nephew who has been riding the heck out of it. Yes keeping it clean is a good idea,

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Old 11-21-20, 05:47 PM
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I've had that exact frameset hanging for over a year now. I should probably do something with it.
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Old 11-21-20, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
That will be fun to get back in riding shape. Can we see more of your repair stand.
The repair stand is a Park Tools bench mount that I mounted to a pole instead. The mount is made up out of stuff I had sitting around - a couple of exhaust clamps, a section of a Model A crossmember, and some steel I had intended for some other project. It's even more solid than the stands our shop used back in the day.


Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
T Blackburn rack on the rear?
Yep. I thought I had Blackburn bottle cages but it turns out they were "Paramount" labeled Schwinn stuff. I only have one of them left, it's on my wife's bike now but I bought her a modern one so I could steal mine back.

Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Nice Rockhopper! Don't worry about i9t being C&V they are the best bikes. That should clean up really nice.

I think someone still makes a cable hanger that mounts on the stem quill, or (I don't really recommend it) there might be one that bolts to fork.
I could replace the washer in the headset with a cable stop, but I already have one that mounts on the stem. I used one on my cruiser too. Here's the set up for the Rock Hopper. The cable stop is intended for a threadless headset, it needs a shim to use on a stem. I forgot to order one so my shim needs some assembly... I had to make one for the cruiser too.



I worked on it some today, tore it down and got a few things cleaned and reinstalled. The intent isn't to make it "like new" by the way, it's getting cleaned up and ready to be ridden again so the nicks will stay and it won't be spotless. I did the front wheel first. I don't like the blackwall tire at all but he price was right, I couldn't find gumwalls for under $35 each. If I ride the bike enough I'll spend the money on better tires.


It's cleaning up ok. The paint is shinier in real life than this pic, not sure what's going on there. Bottom bracket is rebuilt, derailleur cleaned up. Headset rebuilt. Found out this is NOT the bike I had rebuilt before, no Phil Wood grease here. Must have been my Canyon Express I was thinking about.


I got a little surprise when I pulled the crank arms off, it seems I'm missing a fastener. D'oh! At least the spacer is still there. Not sure where I'll get the fastener though?


The spacer for the cable hanger is almost done but it was time to eat and I'm done working on it for the day.
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Old 11-21-20, 08:40 PM
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Wow, that paint looks really good. you rarely see them that shiny and not all faded out. The 88 / 89 Specialized MTB's are the coolest looking vintage bikes of that era. I've owned a bunch of them.
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Old 11-22-20, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Cool bike and worth fixing up. I rebuilt a 1988 (maybe it's an '89) rockhopper for my nephew who has been riding the heck out of it. Yes keeping it clean is a good idea,

I am pretty sure that is an 87. They got the new decal design (like the ones on the OP's bike) in 88. The U brake was used in 87 and 88.
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Old 11-22-20, 02:25 PM
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I finished up the spacer for the brake hanger this morning. This is an in-process pic for those wondering what the heck I'm talking about. Full disclosure - that's the third one I made. The first was years ago and it ended up on my cruiser. The second was yesterday and I made a slight error and I decided it was easier to make another one than fix it. Joke was on me, I ended up fixing/using it anyway and the third was just waste of time (with it's own error... you'd think I'd learn but it seems I got worse at it each time I did it!) Lesson learned - replace the batteries in the caliper instead of winging it.



POP QUIZ! Who's logo is this... and is this the right way to orient it? It's been years since I bought that stem and I've forgotten what brand it is. The logo was oriented the other way around while it was sitting on my shelf but that just looks wrong. I'm guessing that's some sort of "N", maybe for Nashbar? In any case, this way up looks right to me so that's what I went with.


Here's where I left it today.


I would have gotten further but the want of one of these little guys slowed my down. All of the others were pretty loose too.


Oh yeah, one more thing. I stood over it today while installing the bars, and it doesn't seem all that small to me anymore. Maybe I'm shrinking? I had it in my head it was way too small for me but now I'm thinking I wouldn't want it any bigger? It's about 17"/43cm center to center. I could swear I used to ride a 23" road frame but looking at this, that seems huge to me. I have to dig up old pics of my Le Tour I guess. I know there are some around from after I ran it into the back of a van...

And now I'm off to google part sources for 30 year old crank sets.

Last edited by DesmoDog; 11-22-20 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 11-22-20, 05:06 PM
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I started working at a Specialized dealer in 1987. I sold a fair number of these. Good stuff.
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Old 11-22-20, 05:20 PM
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Yeah that’s nashbars logo. I’m a big fan of specialized bikes. I’m rehabbing a 1992 specialized stump jumper. I worked in a shop that sold them.
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Old 11-25-20, 07:00 PM
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I bought a new chain for this but wasn't sure if I was going to use it. The bike hasn't seen THAT much use after all. But then I decided I had it so why not. I was surprised when I laid them next to each other though, the old one had worn more than I had expected!



Here's couple detail shots of the spring loaded seat post I mentioned earlier.




And the bike is pretty much done, just in time for the rain and snow of the winter season. Looks like it'll be spring before I get a chance to check it out. I'm still not a fan of the blackwall tires but I'm getting used to them.

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Old 11-25-20, 07:08 PM
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You've fixed that up nicely. Have fun with it come spring!
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